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European Innovative Teaching Award

Different Approaches to Creative Teaching of Children of Early and Preschool Age

School: Djecji vrtic Matije Gupca


Topic(s) addressed

This project was linked to EITA’s thematic priority on the acquisition of knowledge and skills with regard to the application of various unconventional methods and environments in the learning processes of young children.

Target groups

All project participants were from Croatia, with 15 employees having directly participated in the project’s activities. Participants consisted of 7 teachers and 1 health practitioner who participated in job-shadowing activities, with 4 teachers, the pedagogue, psychologists, and the headmistress having participated in structured courses.


This project revolved around the use of unconventional ways in teaching preschool children based on groundbreaking psychological and pedagogical knowledge, and the use of theoretical and methodological foundations, in accordance with contemporary concepts in creative teaching. Moreover, the project strengthened competences among staff working with preschool children in an outdoor environment in the field of early English learning. By being cognisant of the importance of environmental factors when working outdoors with children, participants implemented a number of everyday critical practices that had been learnt from the work practices of host institutions. Parents were involved in a number of activities throughout the project’s duration, one example of which was a practical workshop for parents that facilitated the transfer of knowledge and experiences gained from the mobilities. The eTwinning platform was used in the implementation of planned activities both before and during the project for communication activities, the dissemination of results, online virtual meetings, and the publishing of a joint virtual publication. A trilingual publication was jointly planned and implemented that brought together the mobility experiences of staff from various European countries, and which disseminated acquired knowledge to workers who were unable to attend mobilities. Upon the publication’s completion, results were disseminated to all participating countries (eTwinning project: "Learn & Play & Think outside the classroom"). Moreover, a 2018 calendar was developed from the "Story Calendar for 2018" project, which guides the reader through a world of stories as illustrated by children from 5 schools, and was aimed at encouraging learning about the culture and languages of participating countries, as well as new authors and their work.


The project engaged natural resources across various natural environments, as well as outdoor workshops, towards the application of practical knowledge and tools in the active learning of children, which resulted in the heightened active and rapid integration of children into European frameworks as they prepare for a multicultural environment.  Cross-sectoral cooperation was mostly reflected in dissemination activities, such as the placement of project banners at the Zagreb City Library and in Knežija local council; a lecture on project implementation during Knežija’s ‘EU Day’ event; and, presentations at the City of Zagreb’s Kindergarten Days and during kindergartens’ open day events. The project and its results were presented at the City of Zagreb’s (Trešnjevka municipality) monthly meeting of preschool headmasters (involving 9 headmasters), and at Kindergarten Maksimir (with 52 employees). Furthermore, the project was regionally disseminated through a number of channels, including in a Education and Teacher Training Agency meeting, titled "Towards Quality Professional Training Through Lifelong Learning"; publications at the Faculty of Teacher Education in Zagreb and Rijeka that detailed the project, its activities, and effects; at the City Office for Education, Culture and Sports; at the annual meeting of headmasters where experiences from the Erasmus+ projects were shared; through participation in a pedagogue at the Croatian Pedagogic-Literary Assembly’s autumn school titled "EU Projects - an Opportunity for Motivated Learning”; and, during the participation of both a pedagogue and a psychologist at the Organisation Mondiale pour l' Education Préscolaire (OMEP) conference, titled "With EU Projects towards Different Competences for a Sustainable Future in the System of Early and Preschool Education." Moreover, a publication detailing the project’s undertaking was also issued in Croatian, English, and Latvian (in both printed and digital formats), titled "Observing Practice – Job Shadowing in European Kindergartens." The project’s ability to achieve its predetermined goals was facilitated by good approach, careful planning, and the quality implementation of all its planned activities on the eTwinning platform before, during, and after the project, which further guaranteed its future sustainability.


Implemented mobilities such as job shadowing activities and structured courses have substantially contributed to an increased awareness on the importance of a creative and incentivised kindergarten environment within which children can learn to live in harmony with nature – particularly with regard to outdoor settings. Furthermore, the implementation of this project allowed for the study and application of outdoor practical educational work, as well as a fortification of measures aimed at managing a child’s outdoor experience through the use of creative movement games and exercises. Additionally, teachers were not only better informed on the development of suitable curricula for working with children in an outdoor environment, they were also able to exchange their experiences with educators from other European countries on the implementation of such work. Lastly, as a result of their enduring connections with course leader D. Bartunek, a two-day outdoor workshop was successfully implemented for all employees during the project year.


Following their return from the mobility, teachers shared their experiences of acquired knowledge, implemented activities, and parent workshops (which included an overview of practical activities for staying outdoors) with their colleagues, participated in a number of local and regional conferences, and produced several articles for professional magazines and newspapers. Mobility experiences directly influenced the strengthening of employee competences – particularly in the field of outdoor learning and the early learning of English. Moreover, through improvements in the quality of work and teaching practices, employees indirectly influenced children in a positive manner, and contributed to enhanced parental cooperation. Within the institution itself, the annual work plan and programme were further enriched, especially with regard to tasks involving children’s outdoor learning and experience. Written "tracking diaries" from individual mobilities were used towards the inclusion of experiences into the "Teacher's Manual" and in the project’s publication, which increased dissemination among other early and preschool education institutions, as well as within broader Croatian society. Given that these materials were written in English, they were also disseminated at a broader level across the European Union to schools and new partners that were implementing similar activities. Lastly, acquired knowledge and experiences were further multiplied and shared in a new school partnership project with one of the project’s partners, as well as across the institution’s internal and external activities.

Project category
  • Early childhood education and care
Project year
  • 2021



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